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News Clips - May 18, 2007

From May 11 to May 17, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 374 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.

Special Section: DEPTHX

Underwater robot tested at Mexican Lake
Fox News (AP) | May 16
U.S. researchers have begun testing an underwater robot at a Mexican sinkhole lake as part of a NASA-funded project to develop techniques for exploring possible signs of life on other planets. The bright orange, bubble-shaped vehicle was lowered Tuesday into the Zacaton lake in the Gulf coast state of Tamaulipas, which at about 1,000 feet deep is believed to be the world's deepest sinkhole. ... Other autonomous underwater vehicles have been used to map the ocean floor, but DEPTHX is the first with the sensitivity and maneuvering ability to make detailed maps of irregular confined spaces like Zacaton, NASA said on its site. The Colorado School of Mines, the University of Texas at Austin and Carnegie Mellon University also participated in the project.,4670,MexicoUnderwaterRobot,00.html


Mexican sinkhole may lead NASA to Jupiter
The Washington Post | May 14
It may not show up on MapQuest, but NASA scientists are betting that the best route to Jupiter and its ice-crusted moon Europa runs through an underwater cavern in Mexico. Though the space mission is probably 30 years off, the trek begins in earnest today outside the city of Tampico. A 60-ton crane is scheduled to lower a giant orange robot dubbed "Clementine" into what is believed to be the deepest flooded sinkhole in the world. ... At the end of each day, the vehicle must navigate back to the surface in much the same way a person lost in the woods searches for a route out -- except that Clementine has no map or trail. It creates its own. Using supercomputers built by scientists at Carnegie Mellon University, the robot works off 500 three-dimensional maps that it is constantly sketching, said robotics professor David Wettergreen. Each new tidbit of information -- a rock jutting out, a narrow tunnel -- is fed into the computers, and the maps are updated in real time. The process is called simultaneous localization and mapping, or SLAM.


Carnegie Mellon takes terrier as mascot
The New York Times (AP) | May 16
More than a century after Carnegie Mellon University opened its doors, the school is getting an official mascot. Students have been donning a Scottish terrier outfit for football games and parading around the sidelines for years as an homage to founder Andrew Carnegie's Scottish roots. But the Scottie mascot wasn't official until Wednesday.


As World Bank controversy unfolds, turmoil takes its toll
USA Today | May 16
On Aug. 10, 2005, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz summoned the bank's head of human resources. When Xavier Coll, responsible for personnel issues involving the bank's 10,000 employees, arrived at the president's 12th-floor suite, Wolfowitz ordered him to contact Shaha Riza, 52, a veteran communications officer in the Middle East and North Africa office, to discuss shifting her to a new job outside the bank. ... "No one knows what's working at the World Bank. We know not much is working," says Allan Meltzer, an economics professor at Carnegie Mellon University, who chaired a 2000 study of the bank. The countries that in the past quarter century have moved the greatest number of people out of poverty, India and China, did so through macroeconomic reforms that unleashed capitalist energies, not World Bank projects, Meltzer says. In Africa, where the bank has been especially active, progress is less visible, he says.


Science beats fiction in Robot Hall of Fame
The New York Times | May 15
Real science is finally beating out science fiction when it comes to the Robot Hall of Fame. Carnegie Mellon University on Tuesday announced its 2007 inductees into the Robot Hall of Fame--comprised of both real and science fiction robots--here at its RoboBusiness 2007 conference. Three of the four robots selected by a jury of 25 leading roboticists were built by actual scientists. "For the first time, the jury selected more robots from science in fact than science fiction," said Matt Mason, the director of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon. "Perhaps it's a trend that we are finally beginning to fulfill expectations," he said.


A nod to irresponsibility
The Washington Post | May 14
Accountability is in the air in Washington. At one end of Pennsylvania Avenue, Paul Wolfowitz is struggling to save his job as president of the World Bank after getting caught arranging a sweetheart deal for his, well, sweetheart. A few blocks down the road, President Bush faces endless questions about his Iraq policy and the reasons he took the country to war. Farther down the avenue, congressional Democrats are hauling up administration officials by the bucketful to testify about a variety of alleged misdeeds -- last week, they grilled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales about the firings of several U.S. attorneys. An unspoken assumption -- shared by those in government, the press and the public -- is that accountability is always a good thing. ... "The first counterintuitive thing about accountability is that it is not necessarily a good thing and, in fact, there is hard evidence showing it is sometimes a bad thing and you would be better off without any accountability at all," said Jennifer Lerner, a social psychologist at Carnegie Mellon University. "Many kinds of accountability don't help at all -- they make things worse."


Security training 101
The Wall Street Journal | May 14
To stop a computer hacker, it might help to think like one. With that in mind, more than a half-dozen information-technology executives gathered in San Diego last month to try out the techniques commonly used by attackers of corporate computer systems. Run by the SANS Institute, a computer-security training and research group in Bethesda, Md., the $9,995 course consisted of six days of lectures and exercises designed to teach executives how to scan for a network's entry points, exploit systems, set up back doors for re-entry and remain undetected. ... Reports of vulnerabilities -- weaknesses in computer systems or software that could be exploited -- are on the rise. The CERT Coordination Center, part of the federally funded Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, recorded 2,176 vulnerability reports in the first quarter of this year alone, compared with 2,437 in all of 2001.


Study: Hydrogen might replace gasoline
United Press International | May 10
U.S. scientists are working to make hydrogen more stable and cost efficient than fossil fuels. Carnegie Mellon University researcher David Sholl says increased concern about global warming and a need to conserve natural fuel sources prompted him to begin his search for lightweight, low-cost hydrogen-storage materials. "We are currently studying the use of metal hydrides, such as alanates and borohydrides, to find materials that could ultimately improve the efficiency of hydrogen cars and curb pollution," said Sholl, a professor of chemical engineering. Sholl's research team is seeking a material that will store larger amounts of hydrogen than can be held in a compressed gas tank, but will still be able to easily release the hydrogen to feed the fuel cell for cars of the future.


Clock helps kids, parents sleep
BusinessWeek (AP) | May 10
The key to being a better parent just might hang on the wall of your child's bedroom one day. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have built a prototype of a clock designed to help toddlers go to sleep -- and hopefully stay there all night. The result? A well-rested child and a happier parent. The system includes a "clock" with a sun, moon and stars that light up depending on the time of day and bed sensors that know when a child gets up in the middle of the night. A remote control allows mom and dad to determine what time the sun should come up. Think Saturday mornings. "It's a real issue for parents. It destroys you not to get the sleep," said John Zimmerman, an assistant professor at the university's Human-Computer Interaction Institute and School of Design -- and the father of a 6-year-old and 3-year-old. Zimmerman and his five student assistants began working on what they call the "reverse alarm clock" in January 2006. They got the idea while brainstorming for ways to develop products that would help parents feel like better parents, he said.

Education for Leadership

It's 'boom' time for local college enrollments
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | May 12
Some area college admission departments are experiencing what Realtors would call a "boom," as applications for this fall are higher than available slots. ... At Carnegie Mellon University, 22,052 students have applied for 1,360 available admission slots this fall. This marks a 19 percent increase over last year, also a record year for applications. Admissions director Michael Steidel said university surveys show freshmen cite Carnegie Mellon's consistently high ranking in national magazines and the university's academic reputation as ranking high in their decision to apply.


Stage Notes
Box Office Mojo | May 11
The actors of Carnegie Mellon's graduating drama class for 2007 took the stage for numerous skits at L.A.'s Coronet Theatre in the Pittsburgh university's annual Showcase presentation. This year's class is a band of multitalented performers. Each graduate—notably Thea Brooks, Michelle Wong and Stephen Rosenberg—has something unique to offer.


TV watchers buzzing as pilot season wraps
The Hollywood Reporter | May 7
While it's all about pilot buzz in Hollywood, these days, at colleges around the country, seniors are sweating their final exams as they prepare to take on the world. For dozens of graduating students from top drama schools, there are a couple of extra finals that could help them take on Hollywood. For the past couple of weeks, universities have staged showcases in New York and Hollywood. On May 7-8 students from Carnegie Mellon will audition for agents and casting execs with school's alumna, producer Paula Wagner, on hand to introduce the shows. "It's always been a resource for us," NBC's executive vp casting Marc Hirschfeld said of the showcases. "It's exciting to see these actors, many of whom don't know anything about the business but have a lot of poise and confidence and enthusiasm." 2006 Carnegie Mellon graduate Jack Carpenter was a breakout star at the showcase last year. Now he is one of the breakout stars of the pilot season with the title role on NBC's "Lipshitz."

Arts and Humanities

Two student shows celebrate the possibilities in overlooked materials
Pittsburgh City Paper | May 17
In the thick of spring, everything seems to bloom. ... Two shows by students at Carnegie Mellon (where I am an adjunct faculty member) demonstrate the alacrity that many of these students have, when instigated by thoughtful professors, for thinking creatively at fruitful peripheries of the built environment. Is architecture something you simply live and work in? Is design just a way to make your consumer products look cool? Think again. Wrinkles, at 820 Liberty Ave., Downtown (open Thursday and Saturday afternoons through May 19, with support from the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust), is an architectural installation by architecture students in David Burns' seminar called Patterning. Similarly, Reduce/Reuse is an exhibit of purchasable items at Construction Junction (214 Lexington Ave., North Point Breeze) through May 30, assembled by Melissa Cicozi's students in the class Design and Social Change. ***This article was written by Carnegie Mellon adjunct faculty member, Charles Rosenblum.


Carnegie Mellon composer honored
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | May 16
Carnegie Mellon University composer Leonardo Balada is one of four composers who will receive the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Music at a ceremony in New York City today. Honoring outstanding artistic achievement, each composer receives $15,000, half of which goes toward a new recording.


Writer tries to find poetry in ordinary experiences
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | May 13
Every so often, poet and writer Jim Daniels will hear the complaint he publishes too much. As if his earnest, dogged approach to writing is a bad thing. "I really focus, and I focus in on (writing) obsessively," Daniels says. "So I end up with a lot of material. There's the assumption that if you publish that much, you must not revise that much. But I spend an important amount of time revising the poems. I'm just glad someone wants to publish them, and somebody reads them." Daniels, 50, has just released two poetry collections. "Revolt of the Crash-Test Dummies," won the Blue Lynx Prize for poetry awarded by the Eastern Washington University Press. "Now Showing" is published by Ahadada Books, a limited-edition publisher out of Toronto and Tokyo. Both feature Daniels' working-class ethic, in approach and subject matter. The Thomas Stockham Baker professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University, Daniels tends to follow the advice given in Rainer Maria Rilke's "Letters to a Young Poet," that childhood always serves a poet well.

Information Technology

Robots walk, hop, drive, motor into hall
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | May 16
Real, working robots finally are getting more notice than their flashy Hollywood counterparts. Carnegie Mellon University named this year's inductees to its Robot Hall of Fame on Tuesday and for the first time, most of the honorees are actual machines. A 1980s one-legged robot in perpetual motion. A minivan that steered its way across the country in 1995. And a Lego building set that piques creativity among adults, as well as kids. "I think it's interesting, because to hit the hall of fame you have to do something pretty spectacular, something that people will remember several years later," said Matt Mason, director of the Robotics Institute at the Oakland university. "If science is competing with science fiction in that way, that is pretty amazing."


Carnegie Mellon picks open network monitoring software
Campus Technology | May 15
Carnegie Mellon University purchased the NeXpose security software suite to help it enhance scanning and monitoring of its campus networks. Carnegie Mellon Director of Information Security Mary Ann Blair said the software was chosen because it offered support for Linux, had a secure Web interface, and enabled the security office to export customized reports. ... "The asset groups with access control will enable us to allow many users to view their machines and reports without having access to other machines they don't own," said Jason Carr, a security engineer at Carnegie Mellon.


It's a long way from the days of R2-D2
The Star-Ledger (McClatchy-Tribune News Service) | May 13
Robots one day may perform surgeries in combat vehicles and spaceships, or be shrunken to cockroach size and sent scurrying around inside patients' bodies, if scientists have their way. Current versions of the machines, many of them made by Silicon Valley companies, have become common in big-city hospitals over the past few years. But researchers also are working to bring the devices to remote areas as well -- including battlefields and distant planets. ... Researchers also are experimenting with tiny robots, which they believe could perform medical procedures with even less incidental damage to a patient's body. One example is HeartLander, which is shorter than an inch. Developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, it has demonstrated the ability to crawl around the surface of a live pig's beating heart and attach a pacemaker connection to the organ. Cameron Riviere, a Carnegie Mellon researcher involved with HeartLander, said he hopes it proves useful one day for injecting drugs or even stem cells that might regenerate damaged tissue. He added that tests of the device in people are possible within three or four years.


Carnegie Mellon robot vehicle makes cut elimination round for national race
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | May 12
Carnegie Mellon University's Tartan Racing is among 53 teams to advance in DARPA's Urban Challenge. Thirty-six other teams were cut from the robotic-vehicle competition. But Tartan Racing's Chevrolet Tahoe is in line to compete, without human assistance, in the Nov. 3 race through a mock urban area featuring traffic, curbs, signals and other obstacles. DARPA -- the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Department of Defense -- next will assess whether each team's vehicle can perform tasks, operate safely and navigate through a four-way intersection with moving traffic. "Every cut has to be taken seriously," said William "Red" Whittaker, Carnegie Mellon's Fredkin research professor of robotics and Tartan Racing team leader. "It's always great to be on the next step and that much closer to the competition."


Why put CO in the air when you can bury it?
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | May 13
Carbon capture and sequestration isn't sexy. Too many syllables, for one thing. For another, it sounds vaguely like putting a piece of burnt toast in a black box, or maybe a war-on-terrorism interrogation technique at Guantanamo Bay. ... It's the process of capturing carbon dioxide before it is emitted into the atmosphere, compressing it into a liquid and then pumping it underground -- into depleted oil and gas reservoirs, deep coal seams, saline formations and deep below the ocean floor -- where, theoretically, it will do much less harm. ... Injecting carbon dioxide could help recover oil and natural gas from underground formations, but it could also bubble up, forcing salty brine water to the surface and polluting streams, or convert to an acid in groundwater. Also a concern is that earthquakes have been reported in places where deep-well injection has been used. New laws, regulations and standards are needed to address the hazards, risks and liabilities of injecting large volumes of such a buoyant liquid underground, said Edward Rubin, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Department of Education and Public Policy. "Until we build and operate large scale carbon sequestration projects, we will not have the data needed to evaluate a number of those critical issues," Mr. Rubin said.


Local companies build relationships for future at biotech conference
Pittsburgh Business Times | May 14
For John Manzetti, the payoff for attending the Biotechnology Industry Organization's annual international convention this week was easy to measure. The Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse CEO said he met with an Israeli company that tracks cell movements to test patients' reactions to various treatments. The company expressed interest in locating its U.S. operations in Pittsburgh. Now, the company, which Manzetti declined to name, is coming to visit the city next week, he said. ... About 880 Pennsylvania life sciences business leaders, academics and economic development officials like Manzetti descended on Boston, May 6-9, for the BIO convention. The Keystone delegation represented more than 4 percent of the conference's more than 20,000 attendees, according to Tracy Krughoff, a spokeswoman for BIO, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group. ... The state's exhibit theme this year was "State of Innovation" and focused on the full range of life sciences activity in Pennsylvania, from lab research to startups to more established firms, according to Manzetti. Local organizations represented at the conference included the Greenhouse, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh and Cellumen Inc.

Regional Impact

Area's housing, health care costs ideal for retirees
The Patriot-News | May 14
Three short years ago, the Harrisburg-Carlisle area was ranked No. 46 by "Cities Ranked and Rated." That noise you hear is the area slipping and sliding to No. 107. The midstate's been in a spiral, if you believe the second edition of the book by Bert Sperling and Peter Sander. Or perhaps you'd prefer to put your faith in Kiplinger's "Best Cities for Every Stage of Your Life," which calls the capital of the Keystone State the best place for retirees to live. That's right. Harrisburg beat out retirement meccas such as Port St. Lucie and Tampa Bay, Fla. Why? "We compiled the list with our three Ts measurement of talent, tolerance and technology and added economic indicators of job growth and income," said Kevin M. Stolarick, a researcher and assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University, in a news release.


Newsmaker: Wilfried Sieg
Pittsburgh Tribune Review | May 17
Wilfried Sieg. Residence: Mt. Lebanon. Age: 61. Family: Wife, Gail; daughters, Emily, 24, and Clara, 20. Education: Doctorate in philosophy from Stanford University, 1977; master's degree in mathematics from the University of Muenster in Germany, 1971. Occupation: A philosophy professor at Carnegie Mellon University since 1985; taught philosophy from 1977-85 at Columbia University in New York City. Background: Headed Carnegie Mellon's Department of Philosophy from 1994 to 2005. Under his leadership, the department climbed to the top of the national ranking in its educational specialties, according to the university. Noteworthy: Has been named a fellow in the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. The international academic society has 4,000 fellows from a variety of professions. Among the 2007 inductees are former Vice President Al Gore, filmmaker Spike Lee and former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Carnegie Mellon statistics Professor Stephen Fienberg was inducted this year, and seven other Carnegie Mellon professors are fellows.


Bill Cosby to speak at Carnegie Mellon commencement
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (AP) | May 17
Bill Cosby will be in Pittsburgh Sunday, and while he'll likely get some laughs, this will not be a paying gig. Cosby will deliver the keynote address at Carnegie Mellon University's commencement ceremony at 11 a.m. Sunday. About 10,000 people are expected to attend the ceremony at Gesling Stadium, where 2,100 undergraduate and graduate degrees will be awarded. Cosby's appearance came about after he had a conversation with university president Jared Cohon, university spokeswoman Teresa Thomas said.


School hopes dapper mascot will strike terrier into foes
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | May 17
Scottie was handed a promotion. Scottie Dog, the unofficial mascot of Carnegie Mellon University, officially has the job, the university said Wednesday. In a survey of students, the Scottish terrier -- symbol of the school's Scottish roots through founder Andrew Carnegie -- received nearly 78 percent of the vote. Of 400 alumni responding to a survey, 25 percent thought the Scottie already had the title. Yesterday's announcement ends months of suspense for a school that spent its 107-year history without an official mascot. "There was quite a lot of talk about it," said university spokesman Ken Walters. "It's taken on a life of its own." ... A highlander and Tartan, the school's nickname, also considered for mascot, will be used to represent the university. But they might have reason to hound the committee for selecting a dog. The panel was co-chaired by Director of Athletics Shirley Bassett.


Lord Paul donates USD 500,000 to Carnegie Mellon University
The Times of India | May 17
NRI industrialist Lord Swraj Paul has donated USD 500,000 to the Carnegie Mellon University in North America for developing an infant Lab Suite in memory of his daughter Ambika. Lord Paul, who saved the London Zoo from closure with a donation of 1 million pounds in the early 1990s, made the donation to the American University through the Ambika Paul Foundation. The objective of the Suite is to design interventions to help children with developmental disabilities such as autism and specific language impairment.  Resident Professors David Rakison and Erik Thiessen are at the leading edge of research dedicated to understanding how infants think and learn.


Scientists develop artificial blood
Nigerian Tribune | May 17
Scientists from the University of Sheffield have developed an artificial ‘plastic blood´, which could act as a substitute for real blood in emergency situations. The ‘plastic blood´ made from a plastic is light to carry and easy to store. The ‘plastic blood’ can be stored as a thick paste in a blood bag and then dissolve it in water just before giving it to patients, making it very easy to transport than liquid blood. ... Chien Ho, lead researcher from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa. similarly described a method to produce small amounts of hemoglobin in a laboratory. Different types of hemoglobin can be designed using the same techniques. For example, they might be tailored to meet specific medical requirements for afflictions like sickle-cell anemia and other blood-related disorders.